I’ve found it to be an evolution of sorts – this living life surrendered to Jesus. Sure, there are areas I’ve handed over without much hesitation, but I confess there are others that I’ve had quite the hold on requiring the Lord’s scrubbing away at finger by finger in an effort to release my iron grip. Take for instance the practice of spiritual disciplines (i.e. Bible reading, meditation, prayer, fasting, etc), I used to go through the motions – praying here and there, fasting when our Pastor called us to corporately, and reading when I felt like it – but there wasn’t dedication to it nor were they practiced in manners as described necessary in the Bible. For years, I heard of their value, but it wasn’t until my third child and late twenties that the words of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 became something that I truly took to heart when it says,
‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.’
Which tells us if all scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for instruction in righteousness in becoming who God has created us to be, then those disciplines His word draws us to over and over and OVER again are more than just valuable and necessary, they’re something we should look forward to, make time for, want…and something I finally understand I need…WE need.
From valuable and necessary to wanted, needed, and dedicated
I know a lot of people may read this and think, ‘it’s easy,’ you open your Bible every day, you apply what you read, you pray – you give up a meal. For me though, and those of you that are similar…it is/was not easy – at all. You see that whole – ‘He must increase, and I must decrease’ scripture is tough stuff. I liken it to eating healthy. We all know the importance of it. We know it has incredible far reaching positive impacts on our physical health, emotional well-being, mental capacity, sleep patterns, and energy levels – but how many of us actually pay attention to what we are eating? Some do – a lot of us though – we opt out. We’re willing to follow a healthy diet, but only to a certain extent. As soon as it takes us to a place of inconvenience, costs more money, or turns into something that doesn’t taste like a chocolate bar – we push the plate away declaring, ‘I AM OUT.’ …and with that mindset we limit ourselves, and there we sit stuck knowing the key to health, but unwilling to accept the steps it takes to achieve it. It was the same thing for me when it came to practicing spiritual disciplines. I knew I needed to make time for them, but that time required starting my day a little earlier – and said, ‘no,’ to a little more sleep and, ‘yes,’ to time spent in God’s word – and said, ‘no,’ to some of the things I want in order to say, ‘yes,’ in order to surrender to what He wants.
Spiritual Disciplines aren’t a feeling, they’re a habit, and implementing them is a process.
It’s hard getting started, and dare I admit after years of growing in my own process – there are days, I just don’t feel like getting out of bed, and my prayers don’t roll off my tongue effortlessly but that’s because practicing spiritual disciplines isn’t a feeling it’s a mindset and an action of surrender to the Creator of the Universe and a desire to draw closer to Him, know Him better, by going deeper in Him, and it’s something everyone has the ability to do. (Which causes me to fall a little more into love with Jesus in his unrestricting, approachable awesomeness)
It requires we remove their checkbox appeal and focus to figure out how to do them ‘right.’ And that learning to do them ‘right’ is a process requiring baby steps that turn into full strides leading to an all-out run. Now, I may not be at that all-out run yet, but I want to share with you the baby steps I’ve found beneficial in stretching into that full stride.
1) Train your mind so the first thought as you wake for the day is acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty. How do you do that? You start by making a conscious effort that before your feet hit the ground each day, you make that acknowledgement, and surrender your day by releasing your plan, and embracing His. Have a hard time remembering? Sticky notes are a wonderful thing!
2) Wake up 5 minutes earlier, and spend those extra 5 minutes in God’s word. Start a daily Bible reading plan – there are a TON available in the Bible App. (check it out – Bible.com)
3) Spend another 5 minutes thinking over the words you read. All scripture is profitable, meditate over it – how does what you read apply to you personally, why did God deem it necessary for its inclusion?
4) Carve out 5 more minutes into your day for focused prayer. Have kids? This part can seem impossible – but if their young, do it as soon as you lay them down for a nap. If they’re older go into your room shut the door, and pray – or – wait for them to go to school, pray on the way to work or as you run those errands. However, you do it make the time – Pray.
5) Listen to an Audio Bible App or Podcast on your commute to work, or in between running errands. His word is our daily bread – just as we can’t live without food – consuming God’s word is just as much a requirement providing nourishment that our soul so desperately needs. Are the kids with you? Don’t worry, start them young – God’s word does not return void (it’s another promise in His word!) You never know the seeds that are being planted as your little ones absorb His word.
Once you set in your mind and commit that these 5 simple things are going to happen each day, you’ll find that you crave these moments of time spent with Jesus, and the 15 minutes that seemed so impossible to find or work into your day will pass with ease and grow to 30, then 45, and maybe even more, and before you know it you’ll discover the simplicity of adding more Jesus into your day, wondering why you didn’t spend time fostering this habit long ago.
I encourage you to take these life changing steps today, if you’ve been a Christian a long time and haven’t set out on your journey to making them part of your day, don’t be embarrassed, you aren’t alone – there are lots of us that haven’t got it all figured out yet and are evolving in our faith at different paces – but these practices are something you need to implement now. In doing them you won’t believe the richness they bring to your faith and relationship with Jesus.
Are you a new convert, just beginning on this path of faith?
Psalms 34:8 says,
‘Taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.’
Trust him today, take him at his word, and you’ll find that in prayer, Bible reading, fasting, meditation you truly have the ability to taste and see that He IS GOOD – Choose Him.